We all love it, milky, velvety, mouth watering… Chocolate seems to lure us all, children, adults, seniors and…dogs. Many of us may be unaware though of the risks involved when Lassie goes for a chocolate fix.
When we think of our dog being poisoned what first comes to our mind first is some sort of household chemical, the dog getting into our medicine cabinet or the accidental ingestion of antifreeze. We may never imagine that a simple food that gives us so much gratification may prove dangerous ad even deadly in some cases for our dogs.
The primary fault is all attributed to theobromine, a component found in chocolate that is toxic to dogs. The level of toxicity of chocolate overall depends on the pet’s size, the quantity and type of chocolate ingested and how fast the owners are able to react upon watching Lassie gulp down that batch of just freshly baked brownies.
If we would have to rate the most dangerous among the chocolate family, baking chocolate would rank first, having the highest concentration of theobromine, the leading cause of problems. This substance is found in high amounts in cocoa and chocolate products. Milk chocolate ranks second because it has has a lower amount of theobromine, but is still a concern if consumed in large quantities, whereas white chocolate is the least concerning of all since in general has the least amount of theobromine.
So what should be done if you find your dog licking an empty wrapper of your favorite chocolate snack? The best would be immediately call your vet. You will need to have ready the weight of your dog, the type of chocolate ingested, the ingredient list and you must know how much was ingested and how long ago. Chances are that if not too long ago the vet can still give you instructions on how to induce vomiting and ask you to monitor the pet or in the worst case he/she will tell you to bring the pet in as an emergency for immediate care.
Symptoms suggesting chocolate toxicity in dogs
There are a variety of symptoms that can be observed after some time of ingesting chocolate. It is not wise however to wait for these symptoms to arise. If you have witnessed your dog eat chocolate the best option is to consult the vet promptly since vomiting can be induced withing the first couple of hours. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. If you did not witness the ingestion of chocolate or found the empty wrapper only later, the signs suggesting chocolate toxicity are as follows:
Excitement Shaking Vomiting Diarrhea Seizures Heart Arrythmias Death
Unfortunately there is no antidote for chocolate toxicity. The affected dog therefore will need supportive care consisting of fluids, administration of powerful emetics, activated charcoal to absorb and anti-seizure medication in case of seizures as well as cardiac medications in case of heart arrhythmia.
Prognosis varies depending on the quantity ingested and how promptly the dog was treated.